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African Cuckoo-Hawk, photo by Lorenzo Barelli

birding safari east africa

BEST BIRD WATCHING TOURS EAST AFRICA

Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda are fantastic destinations for birding safaris.

Due to the number of biotopes and diversity from Indian Ocean, beaches, mangrove forests, coastal forests, savannahs, fresh and soda lakes, mountain forests, rain forests, deserts, semi deserts and moorland a large number of bird species exist in East Africa.

Kenya holds worldwide rank 13 with 1.058 species. 11 out of them
are breeding endemics and 278 migratory birds. Additionally there are many subspecies or species depending on author.

Tanzania has 1.074 bird species and is on rank 12 worldwide. 31 endemic bird species breed in Tanzania, 262 are migrants.

Uganda with 999 bird species is holding rank 16. 1 species is endemic and breeds in Uganda, 236 are migrants, either from the North or intra African.

In Western Kenya, Western Tanzania and Uganda you can meet West African species which are further west not safe to search for or the areas are not open for tourism.

ranking

There a several possibilities how to plan and conduct your birding safari

  • A driver/guide conversant with a good number of species will drive and guide you and you do a lot of self identification (we gladly help you after the safari, just send us the photo)
  • Your driver/guide has very good ornithological knowledge and will show you many species and identify them for you
  • Additional to the driver/guide a professional local ornithological guide will accompany you and search the special species for you
  • Lorenzo Barelli leads the group as birding guide as well as photo technical advisor
  • It depends on your preference, if you like searching for as many species as possible or taking amazing photos or video clips, or if you just love seeing the colourful birds single or in flocks
  • We only take 3 maximum 4 photographers with long lenses in one vehicle so everyone has a bench on his/her own
  • Special birding safari tours can be organized searching for endemic or rare bird species. This means you might have to travel some long distances, some even by plane and be ready to sleep in a modest accommodation
  • For those who love wildlife as well as birds this is very much possible to combine
  • Please understand that we don’t mix birders with wildlife lovers to avoid conflicts

You decide which kind of birding safari you wish and we create your personal itinerary accordingly. Some interesting birding areas are only accessible on foot, let us know if that interests you.

Some of the best ornithological places in Kenya are Meru National Park, Samburu National Reserve, Lake Baringo, Kakamega Rainforest, Lake Victoria and Arabuko Sokoke Forest. But as mentioned above some endemics have their specific habitat often even outside protected areas. Some are far apart from each other and flying might be an option.

Many endemic species are in the Eastern Arc Mountains. The most Northern one are Taita Hills, the only one of them in Kenya, the others are in Tanzania.

In Tanzania the Pare North Mountains, Usambara West and East / Amani Forest and Udzungwa Mountain also belong to the Eastern Arc Mountains and are fantastic birding regions. We advise you go with a local birding guide who knows how to find the forest species. Not always an easy task.

Uganda – The Mabamba Swamp / Kazinga Channel is famous for the Shoebill, Bwindi impenetrable Forest National Park has 350 species, Murchison Falls National Park excels with 450 species and Queen Elizabeth National Park leads with 600 species and is therefore a paradise for birders. For special birds we also recommend smaller protected areas or lodges with amazing gardens. In Kibale National Park you can find 6 Albertine Rift endemics!

It has become impossible to predict the best time to travel for a birding safari. Climate change has altered the rain patterns. But it is also interesting to do birding after rain. When termites fly out many species flock in to feed on them.

Migratory birds are present in East Africa from later August to March / April. That is mostly also the time you can find intra African migrants.

Most lodges / tented camps have the lowest prices from April to May or June, that’s the time of the long rains according to history.

November, the month said to be of the short rains is medium priced, while the highest rates are during the peak season from July to end of October.

Tell us your wish or the bird species you would love to see and we create

your personal birding safari

Our birding safaris samples

Central and Western Kenya – 13 days

Endemic birds in Kenya – 14 days

From Nairobi to the coast (Watamu) – 13 days

Best of Uganda – which will be adjusted to birding safari